Wednesday, October 31, 2012

There have been so many new openings lately in Charlotte's dining and nightlife that it's almost hard to keep up. But who doesn't like a big grand opening event, right? Pizza Fusion is holding its grand opening this Saturday, November 3 and they're giving away a bunch of cool stuff.

Based in Boca Raton, Florida, Pizza Fusion has opened its first North Carolina location at the Metropolitan here in Charlotte, at 1055 Metropolitan Avenue, suite 140, The franchise touts itself as "an organic, socially responsible pizza restaurant," and it is a welcomed addition to Charlotte's rapidly expanding restaurant scene (several restaurants have opened at the Metropolitan this year alone).  

Pizza Fusion's new location at the Metropolitan. Credit:

Saturday's grand opening event, taking place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., features some of the biggest giveaways I've seen. Pizza Fusion Charlotte will host a drawing to randomly select 50 guests from those in attendance at its grand opening and 10 Facebook entrants (click on the Free Pizza tab) to win free pizza for a year. Plus, one lucky guest in attendance will be selected at random to receive free pizza for life. Sign me up!

The event will also feature free pizza and drinks, including organic beer and wine, and entertainment for kids and adults. Drex and Maney, hosts of the morning show on KISS 95.1 FM, will broadcast live, playing the latest top-40 hits while giving away free concert tickets and other prizes. Guests will also receive free Pizza Fusion T-shirts, souvenir BPA-free eco-cups, eco-wristbands, stickers, and other prizes from local businesses. The grand opening will also feature a charity raffle for two bicycles, courtesy of Queen City Bicycles, with all proceeds from the raffle going to Camp CARE (Cancer Ain't Really the End), which provides a camp and other year-round activities for children affected by cancer and their families in the Charlotte area.

Pizza Fusion serves an organic and all-natural menu of pizza, sandwiches, salads, and desserts, as well as local craft beer and sustainable wine selections. The restaurant also serves an assortment of vegan and gluten-free menu items. Its ownership says Pizza Fusion is the number one green franchise in North America. Founded in 2006, there are now locations in Florida, Colorado, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, and, most recently, North Carolina. Coincidentally, all but one of these are swing states, but, thankfully, there doesn't seem to be any politics going on here. Just organic pizza and booze.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When you're a kid, as far as holidays go, in the order of importance (and excitement) there's Christmas, then Halloween. The older you get and as you become an adult, Christmas is still great but it changes significantly because you no longer receive a pile of gifts (or two weeks off, for that matter). But Halloween, strangely enough, is that magical holiday that actually becomes more fun once you become an adult. Sure, trick-or-treating is gone, but it's been replaced with parties serving cocktails. And many adults actually take dressing up in costumes very seriously—guys tend to be creative, while ladies tend to be, well, sexy (check out photos from the weekend's Grave Diggers Ball, for example).

Halloween is tomorrow and some of you will be dressing up for the occasion at work (if you have a fun boss) and, most importantly, at play when you hit the parties tomorrow night (check out the list of parties I compiled on my Dusk Till Dawn blog).

There are some people who wear costumes or uniforms year-round, however, because of their professions. I talked to three Charlotteans about their costume-like work lives.

Photo credit: Autostock/
Joey Logano
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver
Uniform: Driver suit, made of fire-retardant material, along with racing helmet.
“Some drivers carry some superstitious stuff in their cars. I just have the bare minimum—all that other stuff adds weight. I have a big water bottle in there and that’s about all I need. Wearing this suit makes you want to put shorts on because it gets really hot. It’s usually about 30 degrees hotter inside the car than the outside temperature. You sweat so much that you don’t need to go to the bathroom during the race.”

Phil Carter
Executive Chef at Cantina 1511 (Dilworth location)
Uniform: Black chef pants and coat.
“I oversee the operations at an authentic Mexican restaurant, as far as ordering, receiving, food quality, food standards, and health standards. I’m a self-taught chef with over 22 years' experience. In the kitchen on a typical busy Friday or Saturday night there’s a lot of communication—not like what you see on these [reality TV] shows as far as yelling and screaming and stuff like that. It’s more of a controlled chaos, as we like to call it.”

Angela Lopez (Real name: Carlos Capps)
Drag Queen, Dancer, Performer
Costume: Dresses like a woman, complete with body pads, a body shaper, six layers of tights, stage makeup, wig, and high heels.
“It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to get dressed—I’m used to it because I’ve been doing it for awhile. I also glue my eyebrows down with a glue stick and cover them up with makeup so you can’t see them. Then I draw them on. I wear seven inch heels—nothing less—because I’m only 5’4”. They’re actually not bad, but sometimes after wearing them for 14 hours it kind of hurts.”

Monday, October 22, 2012

In early August, Craftsman announced its House United program, in which half of a house was going to be built during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and the other half would be built during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, with plans to donate the completed house to a deserving military veteran. I wrote about it at the time on The DNC In The CLT blog for Charlotte magazine. Then last Wednesday, Ty Pennington and crew relatively quietly came into Charlotte to present the house--I say it was relatively quiet because it didn't receive much local news coverage. I learned of the event a few days later when coming across the press release in my email inbox. CNN covered the story the day it was presented to the family (October 17).

Craftsman, Ty Pennington, Rebuilding Together, Sears Heroes at Home, NextGen Home, and Bank of America, along with members of the Republican and Democratic parties all came together to make this project possible. The recipient of the new home, which is located in the Belmont community, is John Jones II, a U.S. Army veteran, and his wife Tanisha and their three children.

Ty Pennington with John and Tanisha Jones. Credit:

After completing his military service, which included two tours of duty in the Middle East, John and his family relocated from Goldsboro, North Carolina to Charlotte where they initially found themselves homeless, according to a press release. With assistance from the American Legion, the Jones family was able to secure rental housing and assistance from the state. John is currently unable to work because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but is receiving treatment to be able to someday return to work. "Support our troops" is often used in rhetoric, so it's great to see it actually happening.

Click here to see photos of the project on NextGen's Facebook page.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Early voting has begun in North Carolina, kicking off today (October 18) and running through November 3. So you don't have to wait until Election Day (Tuesday, November 6) to vote. If you have already decided which candidates/political parties you're voting for, then hop to it. If you're still undecided (I hope you're not waiting on the final presidential debate next week), then educate yourself.

Earn this sticker.

Whether it's through my work as a journalist or blogger, or my involvement in the community--such as when I helped coordinate three nonpartisan voter registration events last month in Charlotte (here, here, and here) through the Hip Hop Caucus and its Respect My Vote! campaign--you'll never hear/read me telling you who to vote for (my only goal is to help you become more informed and more involved). I leave the persuasion up to the billion dollars that's being spent on television and radio ads by the political parties, to the tens of thousands of volunteers across the country who are going door to door for the campaigns, and to whichever partisan cable news station you watch--FOX News or MSNBC.

Actually, I hope you're cutting through all that clutter and not only deciding to vote, but understanding who and what you're voting for. Every four years, the presidential election becomes the hot topic that dominates far too many facets of our lives (my example in 2008), but when you show up to the polls, aside from going in to vote for either Obama or Romney, you'll also see races for state senators and representatives, local judges, county commissioners, and other important elections on the ballot. Some of the races are non-partisan, so even if you vote straight-party ticket, there will be other candidates you'll need to decide between. Don't go in there guessing.

Below are a few online resources that can help you become more informed before you vote:
If you aren't registered to vote, even though the voter registration deadline has passed in North Carolina, in this state you can still vote at what's known as a One-Stop Voting Site, where you can register to vote and cast your vote the same day during the early voting period. So you can do that now through November 3 (but not on Election Day unless you're already registered). Click here for more details and here to search for the nearest One-Stop Voting Site in your county.

Watch this BET video of the making of a Respect My Vote! PSA, featuring Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. (president of the Hip Hop Caucus) and hip hop artists 2 Chainz and Travis Porter. (FYI: Ads that run before the video are because of BET and not the nonpartisan Respect My Vote! campaign.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pat McCrory was mayor of Charlotte from 1995 to 2009, holding office for a city-record seven terms. In my opinion, he was an effective mayor and should be credited for spearheading and championing a lot of the successful growth Charlotte experienced during the last decade. His successor, Mayor Anthony Foxx, has done a good job as well and has helped lead the city out of the recession. See what I just did? I complimented two political leaders, one who's a Republican (McCrory) and one who's a Democrat (Foxx). I wish more of you what push your partisan views (and hate) aside and give credit where it's due. But on to my point.

McCrory is in the homestretch of his second run for governor of North Carolina. He lost to Bev Perdue in 2008. This time around, McCrory is facing Walter Dalton, the Democratic nominee and current lieutenant governor of the state. McCrory has a sizable lead in the polls I've seen, but the 2012 NC gubernatorial race will probably end up being closer, influenced by voter turnout and the majority of people voting straight-party. McCrory appears to be outspending Dalton, at least that's how it seems regarding the number of TV ads by him I've been seeing lately, which led to something else I noticed.

Does Pat McCrory have a problem saying "Charlotte"? Check out two of his recent commercials (here and here, or watch below), where he touts his tenure as mayor but doesn't name the city.

It seems odd to me that McCrory doesn't say Charlotte in those ads, which are two of the last three TV ads he's released. In the other one, Charlotte is mentioned, but by someone else, in that not-intended-to-be-funny-but-kinda-is-ad featuring former Wilson, NC Sheriff Wayne Gay, who says McCrory "did great as mayor of Charlotte. He'll do great with our state, or I'll hunt him down."

Perhaps McCrory is concerned about any perceived Charlotte stigma negatively affecting his appeal to voters across this large, diverse state of ours. Plus, former Charlotte mayors don't have a good track record of seeking higher office, such as Harvey Gantt's (D) two failed runs for U.S. Senate (1990 and 1996), Sue Myrick's (R) unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 1992 (though she would be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 and hold that seat until she announced her retirement in 2012), Richard Vinroot's (R) three failed attempts to become NC governor (1996, 2000, and 2004) and McCrory's own unsuccessful 2008 run.

Still, c'mon Pat, represent for the Queen City!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Can't Knock the Hustle—Man

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 10/12/2012 No comments
Before Tracy Morgan became the huge comedian and TV star he is today, he first came onto our radar in the 1990s as Hustle Man on Martin. Well, this morning, I met a real-life Hustle Man. I stopped at a gas station and saw a minivan flanked by more than a dozen different sports flags and several President Obama posters. I just had to go over and meet whomever was driving this peculiar vehicle.

The Hustle Man goes by the name of D.C., and I'm assuming that's why he was donning a Washington Redskins hat. He opened up his van and showed a variety of things he has for sale. In addition to the sports flags for several NFL and college football teams, he also has tote bags, hubcaps, and calendars and books by several African-American politicians and other public figures. D.C. is definitely a showman, and was happy to pose for my camera phone pics. And curiously enough, he says he's the assistant director of King's Funeral Home on Beatties Ford Road. He said for you all to come see him—to buy merchandise; I hope you won't be in need of funeral services anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paul C. Brunson emphatically believes that dating and finding love in 2012 (and 2013 and beyond) doesn’t have to be complicated. He’s gaining national acclaim as a leading relationship coach and matchmaker, and some lady named Oprah—you might’ve heard of her—handpicked him to co-host a show on OWN called Lovetown, USA.

Paul has made countless television appearances, has successfully helped hundreds of clients improve their relationships or find love, and he’s releasing his first book this week (October 11), It’s Complicated: But It Doesn’t Have To Be. As if his first book wasn’t already highly anticipated, he’s embarked on a cross-country tour to promote it, meet his fans, and, as he says, to inform and entertain you.

The tour, It’s Complicated Live!” stops in Charlotte on Wednesday, October 17 at 6 p.m. at the Charlotte Chamber Belk Action Center. Tickets range from $35 to $50 and include a copy of his book. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.

Relationship expert, TV personality, and author Paul C. Brunson. Credit:

I talked to Paul by phone last week, while he waited in an airport in route to the next city for his tour. In the interview below, you’ll learn more about his book and upcoming event, why you should analyze relationship data you read, and why he has such a positive outlook on love.

Tell me about your tour.
The whole idea with the tour is to create awareness around the book (It’s Complicated: But It Doesn’t Have To Be), to create awareness around the TV show, Lovetown, and also to create an environment to educate. It’s an interactive discussion with live music, and it’s really a good time. We’ve done six or seven cities so far. We’ve had really good reviews. It’s a good balance of information and entertainment.

The content is for anyone that’s interested in strengthening their relationship, whether that’s romantic or platonic—and anyone who likes to have a good time. If you want both of the above, this is the perfect event for you.

The title of matchmaker gets used a lot these days. How would you describe what you do?
You get those titles as relationship expert or matchmaker, but I always look at why I started doing this. And the reason I started this was really about family, about community, and it was about how there’s a direct tie between a strong community, coming from their being a strong family. And the key piece is strong families having two parents in the household. So I look at this as almost community activism work. That’s how I perceive my work, more as community work.

What made the timing right for you to write your first book?
The book came about because whenever I would prepare for coaching or prepare for a seminar, I noticed I was always pulling from different resources. I’d pull from my favorite book on psychology or biology or digital-age dating, or pickup artistry because I think there’s some value in that about body language. So there were always six or seven books that I would go to. When I started writing my column for Essence, I started realizing there’s a way to combine all of that information and frame it in a way that’s entertaining. Once I was able to do that with the Essence column, I realized that I really do have a unique voice and that’s when I decided to write the book.

We hear a lot about people getting married later in life, and that divorce rates are really high. How do you address that?
I think the first thing to consider is where we’re getting this information and data from. For example, the notion that divorce rates are really high. What’s interesting is over the last 20 years, divorce rates are actually slightly lower, so the trend is that they’re lowering. Also, when you look at—and I address this in the first chapter of my book—people getting married later in life, a lot of it has to do with societal changes that have basically allowed us to live longer. So we’re living longer which means our marriages are just as long. So even though we’re getting married later, that’s not indicative of anything bad, per se. So a lot of the book and a lot of what I like to do is have us examine this information we’re getting from media and analyze to see if this is a good thing or a bad thing, is it trending one way or another way. When you look at the number of people in this country who believe that there’s value in marriage, that percentage, which is in the 90th percentile, is stronger than it’s ever been. Now, views on marriage have decreased, yes, but those who see value in it is higher than ever before. So I think there are a lot of positive data points.

Continue reading interview after the jump.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Outside of Carolina Panthers home games, quarterback Cam Newton doesn't make too many public appearances in Charlotte. But he was all the talk this evening--and not about football--as he appeared at the Belk headquarters to announce the launch of his men's clothing line for spring 2013. Titled "MADE," the line will be sold exclusively at Belk, and today's launch event was complete with models, dancers, and an onstage chat with Cam.

Cam Newton has it MADE--modeling pieces from his spring collection. Credit: Belk, Inc.

It makes sense for Belk, the Charlotte-based chain that's the nation’s largest privately owned mainline department store company with 302 stores located in 16 Southern states, to want to partner with one of the NFL's biggest stars who's right here in their hometown. In a press release, Kathryn Bufano, president and merchandising officer for Belk, said, “Cam Newton personifies our company’s dedication to family, community and the Southern lifestyle, and therefore is a perfect complement to Belk’s modern Southern fashions.” As I've said repeatedly on this blog, Cam has quickly become one of the most marketable, highly endorsed athletes in all of sports.

But many people will question and criticize the timing of Cam's decision to launch a clothing line--plenty made such remarks on Twitter as word spread this evening--considering his lackluster play this season, which has the Panthers off to a 1-4 start. I'm sure this announcement was months in the works, and Cam wouldn't have anticipated his team playing so poorly come October--and him being scheduled to attend a fashion press conference, of all things, the day after a devastating home loss.

Cam joining Belk executives on stage at Monday's press conference. Credit: @ESPortillo.

But Cam would've been wiser to have waited a year before tackling an endeavor that gives critics the ammunition to say he's too concerned with being flashy and being a superstar--his Superman touchdown pose that was heralded during his rookie year, has come under scrutiny this season. If for nothing else, Cam should've gotten through his second season, proven that he wasn't going to have a sophomore slump, finish the season with a winning, or at least .500, record, and then do all of this clothing line business next fall.

But then again, why not strike while the iron is hot? I truly believe he's going to be a great player in this league for the next decade-plus, but if he does indeed suffer a full-on sophomore slump this season, there's no guarantee his name and likeness will be in such high demand a year from now.

Cool logo for MADE. Credit: Belk, Inc.

MADE, his clothing line, is described as "fashion-forward, versatile, professional apparel options for men." It's launching in spring 2013, and in fall 2013 it will expand to include accessories and shoes. Cam has proven himself to be a stylish dresser so I would expect high standards from a clothing line bearing his name.

Ain't No Thing but a Chicken Wing

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 10/08/2012 No comments
Wednesday's Autumn AirFest, put on by the Charlotte Chamber, was a great event, with great weather, food, and networking. The highlight of the midday event was the chicken wing competition, in which five local restaurants competed: DD Peckers' Wing Shack, Fuel Pizza, Mac's Speed Shop, Nana's Soul Food, and Wild Wing Cafe. Attendees were able to sample wings from each of them; then they were allowed to cast their vote for the best using an electronic voting kiosk.

The winner, receiving the most votes, was DD Peckers', and the runner-up was Nana's Soul Food.

I differed a little from the majority. My choice for winner was Wild Wing Cafe. They served three different wings, but it was the "Crazy Daisy" wing that made them tops in my book. It's an Asian-style barbecue wing with rich, flavorful sauce and great texture--fried just right.

But like the audience, I too choose Nana's Soul Food as my runner-up. Chef Charles Rucker was on hand serving up his Zesty Garlic wings. They were hot (spicy), but not too hot, tender--meat nearly falling off the bone--and very flavorful. It possibly could've been my winner had the skin been fried harder.

Here are some of my camera phone pics from the event.

Chef Rucker of Nana's Soul Food serving guests.

This nifty tray from Big Frog of South Charlotte allowed me to hold my drink and food with one hand.

You would think someone burnt this, but it's the Ming wing from DD Peckers' and it's quite good.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The "This Is SportsCenter" commercials by ESPN have been some of the best television show promos over the past decade (check out one guy's compilation of more than two dozen). The newest 30-second spot, released yesterday, features Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. It's okay, but I would've liked to have seen something funnier, more creative.

It's been three years since a Panthers player has been featured in a SportsCenter commercial, which was wide receiver Steve Smith in 2009. I really liked his.

Monday, October 1, 2012

7-Election 2012 Is Underway

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 10/01/2012 No comments
Several convenience stores in the Charlotte area recently converted to 7-Eleven franchises. There's one about a mile from my house that made the switch in July, and since then I've frequented it for the cappuccino and occasional snack. I stopped by there today and saw that the front windows were plastered with signs promoting “7-Election.” 

I visited just now, where you can find details on the promotion. "Ask not what 7-Eleven can do for you—ask what 7-Eleven can brew for you," reads the tagline. In the 7-Eleven stores you can purchase coffee in either a blue Obama cup, representing President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, or a red Romney cup for presidential challenger Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. By choosing one of the cups, you're "casting your ballot" in the unscientific poll. Every four years, 7-Eleven unveils custom coffee cups for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees and tracks customers' votes through purchases. The convenience store chain says it has correctly predicted the presidential election for the past three election cycles: 2000, 2004, and 2008. 

According to the website, Obama is currently leading Romney 60% to 40% in 7-Election 2012. You can also see how the results breakdown state by state. Voting in this election runs until the real Election Day, which is November 6.
Related Posts with Thumbnails